How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider


Domain Basics

What is domain name? A domain name is basically the web address of a particular website. For example, "" is a domain name. If you want to have a serious online business, you need your own domain name.


Why do you need a domain name? A website is the online equivalent of "real estate". And if that's the case, then a domain name is like the title deed to your website.


There are plenty of free web hosts out there who will let you host your site on their server without owning your domain. Typically, they'll put it on a sub domain of their own domain. The problem with that is that you don't own the "title deed" to your own website. In fact, they own it.


Suppose the free host suddenly went out of business? Or suppose they decide to stop offering free hosting and they redirect all the traffic to their own site.


You need to have your own domain so that you can build equity in your virtual real estate. If you don't own your domain, it's kind of like renting a home instead of buying it. You'd be building equity in someone else's property for them.


By building equity in your own online property, it becomes an asset that you can keep for the long term, or sell to an investor. Now you can understand why it's so important to have your own domain. Now let's talk about what type of domain you should register.


Domain Extensions

First, which domain "extension" should you choose? Of course, you're familiar with the ".COM" extension, but when you go to register a domain, you'll see several different options. What about those?


It really depends on what you're going to be using the domain for. If it's going to be primary domain for your business, I'd settle for nothing less than a ".COM". For example,


The reason for this is that .COM's have long been considered the "gold standard" of the domain name industry. It is the most memorable extension for most of the general public, and could be viewed more favourably by potential investors if you should choose to sell your business someday.


However, if the domain is not intended to be the central identifying address for your business, there are some other good options available. The next best domain extensions are generally considered to be .NET, .ORG, and sometimes .INFO and .BIZ.


If your website is going to be an information source designed to help people, the .ORG extension can actually be preferable to the .COM. The reason for this is that the .ORG extension is generally associated with non-profit organizations and other helpful groups. When a web user sees your website listed on a search engine, a .ORG extension might create an element of trust which causes them to be more likely to click onto your site.

Now that we've discussed domain name extensions, let's look at what your domain name should be.


Choosing a Domain Name

If you're choosing the main domain for your online business, there are several strategic marketing factors that can come into play. Often the best website names are "made up" words (,,, etc), while others are more straight forward (,, etc).


However, when it comes to selecting a domain for a content-based site it is generally far-and-away best to choose a name that concisely describes exactly WHAT the site is about.


So, if your website is about car wheels, the best domain would probably be If that wasn't available, you could look to see if other extensions are available (such as,, etc.). If those were not available, look at adding another word to the domain. Most people would start by trying combinations like,, etc. That can be a good strategy, but another way to find unique domains is by adding a personal touch. For example, if your name was Bob, you could register, or if you're marketing locally you could register


What about hyphens?

This is a very common question that we are asked. Traditionally, a domain is less valuable when hyphenated. For example, would be worth less than That's probably because it's more difficult to remember a domain with a hyphen in it, or to advertise it on the radio, on TV, etc.


However, hyphens may also help with search engine optimization.


It is hard to draw any concrete conclusions, because there are so many factors involved in SEO, but the success and top ranking of many hyphenated domains would lead me to believe that they may have an advantage.


Some people have also speculated that the search engines could penalize or "sandbox" hyphenated domains due to the proliferation of spam sites using hyphenated domains. I have not seen this to be the case, but it is something to be mindful of.


A good strategy would probably be to build your empire using some hyphenated domains and some non-hyphenated domains.


Domain pitfalls to avoid

DON'T use intentional misspellings (you can use misspelled domains to capture traffic, but you should NOT build a full-fledged site on one).

DON'T use abbreviations.

DON'T use numbers (digits), unless you have a really good reason.

DON'T make it too long. Shorter domains are more memorable, and generally more attractive in your advertising and search engine listings. It's okay to include multiple keywords if your site warrants it (, but don't go overboard ( because it will make you look like a spammer.


Okay, so now that you know how to choose a domain, let's look at exactly how to register one.


Registering your domain

There are literally hundreds of places on the internet where you can register a domain. Some are clearly better than others. If you've already found a good and reliable registrar, feel free to stick with them.


One of the most important features is having a registrar that allows you to QUICKLY and EASILY change your DNS by yourself. You will need to use that feature right away. I also suggest using one that allows you to easily create your own name servers. We won't be using that feature today, but it's a good one to have in case you want to use it in the future.